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DHHL moves ahead with Honokowai project

Draft report says 580 to over 1,000 lots could be developed

The Honokowai Beneficiary Community Master Plan is shown as part of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands draft environmental assessment published Thursday. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands / PBR HAWAII & Associates Inc. photos

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is moving forward with a major 800-acre project in Honokowai that could yield 580 to 1,100 homestead lots and cost up to $59 million.

Nearly 20 years after initiating environmental studies of the area, DHHL has submitted a draft environmental assessment for its Honokowai Master Plan, published Thursday in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.”

The proposed project, located on hundreds of acres of undeveloped land about 5 miles north of Lahaina, would create new agricultural homesteads, multifamily homes and individual or community farming. As needed, portions of the area will also go toward county infrastructure and the state’s next stage of the Lahaina Bypass.

Envisioned as a mix of homestead, agricultural, residential, industrial and community uses, which would be developed in stages, the project is being finalized based on ongoing beneficiary engagement.

Options for homesteads range from 580 to about 1,100 lots that would include agricultural homesteads (subsistence and supplemental agriculture) and residential homesteads (single-family and multifamily). Based on beneficiary feedback so far, the option that generates the most homes and lots is preferred.

The proposed state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ Honokowai Master Plan is located on hundreds of acres of undeveloped land about 5 miles north of Lahaina.

Residential development is anticipated to be done in two phases. Phase 1 includes subsistence agricultural homesteads (1- to 2-acre lots) to the north of Honokowai Gulch, or up to 57 subsistence agricultural homesteads. Phase 2 includes up to 394 homesteads comprising single-family and subsistence agricultural homesteads, agricultural space and neighborhood parks. Future phases will realize the remaining components of the master plan, according to the draft report.

Engineering design and permitting is anticipated to be completed in 2023. Infrastructure construction is expected to finish around 2027, with vacant lots available as soon as 2028.

DHHL initially developed a master plan for the 800 acres in Honokowai, which was transferred to DHHL in 1994, and submitted environmental impact statement preparation notices, which were published in 2003. The 2003 Honokowai master plan included up to 1,000 single-family homesteads, along with recreational areas, including a park and sites for community centers, health care facilities or churches. An 18-acre site for the possible development of a private school and a site for future kupuna housing were also included.

Because of an “unexpected acquisition of lands that were ready for construction” with West Maui’s Villages of Leiali’i, the department switched focus away from Honokowai.

“With continued beneficiary pressure to award lands at Honokowai and in light of the ability for Leiali’i to address some of the demand for residential homesteads, DHHL’s Planning Office withdrew the 2003 Honokowai EISPN (environmental impact statement preparation notices) on November 23, 2019, and began a master plan update process in 2019,” the report said.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is moving forward with a major 800-acre project in Honokowai that could yield 580 to 1,100 homestead lots and cost up to $59 million.

Three beneficiary consultation meetings were held in September 2019, February 2020 and November.

As of August, DHHL provided a total of 1,406 active homestead leases on Maui island and 2,284 within Maui County, contributing to a total of 9,946 across the state. Most of the Maui island homesteads are located in Central Maui or East Maui, with only 104 leases currently in West Maui (at Leali’i), according to the draft report.

The proposing/determining agency for the environmental assessment is DHHL. Contact Julie-Ann Cachola can be reached at (808) 620-9500, julie-ann.cachola@hawaii.gov or P.O. Box 1879, Honolulu, HI 96805.

The consultant is PBR HAWAII & Associates Inc. on Oahu.

Comments on the draft environmental assessment are due by Aug. 9 and should be sent to the proposing/determining agency at julie-ann.cachola @hawaii.gov and copy the consultant spang@pbrhawaii.com.

To view the full draft environmental assessment on the DHHL Honokowai Master Plan, visit oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/Doc_Library/2021-07-08-MA-DEA-Honokowai-Master-Plan-DHHL.pdf.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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